How should I file my receipts and invoices?

Do you feel like you drown in paperwork?

I often get asked what is the best way to file receipts and invoices, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you.

There is no right or wrong way on how to file your business invoices and receipts, except that in NZ they need to be kept for seven years.  How quickly and efficiently you would like to access them will determine whether you throw them in a shoebox and toss into the cupboard, file that paperwork away into files, or file all records electronically.

So, that begs the question, what do I do with that paperwork?

ELECTRONICALLY FILE PAPERWORK (PAPERLESS)

There are a multitude of ways to electronically file your paperwork these days and with the availability of storage space online its never been easier.  You can save files into your PC or Laptop, or online via Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Onedrive (to name only a few) – they all offer ‘space’ for your use, somewhere for you to file your photos, files,  plans, receipts and financial paperwork.  That’s great isnt it?  But how do we make sense of the huge number of files we generate in business, let alone in our personal lives.

Its all about order

When filing online or into your computer its all about naming your files, if you don’t name them correctly, you may never find that copy of that invoice you need, or that photo you are looking for.  So, create a plan before you start.  Ensure it is going to work for you so you can easily file what you need and be able to find it down the track.

Create folders

Folders create a space to put files into.  For example, if I was filing my receipts and invoices electronically, I would have a folder called Invoices, then within this folder, another one called 2017 (for the current financial year).  Within the 2017 folder, I would have a folder for each month. (See example A)  Each invoice or receipt file would be named and dated and placed in the correct folder.  Alternatively, I could have folders for each of my suppliers within the folder 2017 and file each receipt within the supplier folder (Example B).  Again, its all about having a plan with the easiest way for you to find what you are looking for.

Whatever way you decide, stick with it.

Example A                                                                                           Example B
File Tree                  File Tree

 

Accounting software

Some online accounting software programs (like Xero and MYOB) now have the ability to add a file to a transaction within the software. This creates a perfect opportunity to file all relevant business invoices and receipts directly against the transaction which means it is filed here and you don’t need to worry about it further.  You can manually pull files into each of these transactions as you code the data (which can be a little time consuming) or alternatively, there are a lot of cost effective software options to assist with this process and we use and recommend ReceiptBank.

 

ACTUAL PAPER TO DEAL WITH

If you much prefer to file your actual paper, don’t despair.  I have some tips for you too.

FILE IT!

Stay on top of keeping your paperwork filed.  I find the longer you leave it the harder it is to get it done.  Put some time aside every week to deal with and file this away.

Folders on shelf --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Following the same policy of electronically filing above, but using actual files, create plan that will work for you.  Naming your folders is the first step to organising this part of your business. You may have a folder called Invoices & Receipts 2017.  Within this a set of dividers with 1 – 12, April to March or A to Z, filing the invoices and receipts within the correct index.

 

 

 

AlternativelyFile1, if you have a filing cabinet, you can use drop files to store your paper invoices. Again, naming your folders is the first step.  Actually filing the paperwork on a regular basis is the second.

 

 

 

 

Whichever way you choose, ensure you create a plan first so you can file easily and find even easier. And, make sure you file regularly.

 

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